“A monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime.”
Winston Churchill, referring to the Nazi oppression and occupation of Western Europe.
Now seventy five years from D-Day, lead Army medic Ray Lambert, one of the very last men standing at 98 years old, tells his story. He was part of the 16th Infantry Regiment,1st Division, the “Big Red One” at the very tip of the spear, and one of the first men off the landing craft in the first wave of the amphibious assault.
Immediately after the ramp was dropped, Lambert caught a bullet through his elbow, and later shrapnel tore through his thigh. Undaunted, he continued assisting wounded men all around him while under withering fire, pulling many out of the water to safety on shore behind a large rock-“Ray’s Rock,” while drenched and on morphine himself for severe pain.
Eventually, a landing craft ramp weighing hundreds of pounds crashed down on him as he was helping a wounded soldier from drowning. Unconscious, his back broken, he was soon on a ship heading back to an English hospital, where he would spend almost a year learning how to walk again. His weight dropped to 130 pounds.
That day, Ray Lambert was credited with saving 15 men.
Though there were 4,414 Allied fatalities on D-Day, Lambert is today a part of ceremonies at Colleville-Sur-Mer, the American cemetery at Normandy.
Ray Lambert was awarded the Bronze Star, Silver Star, & Purple Heart for bravery. But according to him, he was no hero. The young boys who made the ultimate sacrifice of their lives were.
It was hard to choke back the emotion while writing this.
Maybe Tom Brokaw was right-they really were the greatest generation.